Public health efforts to limit tobacco use worldwide are making progress, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new report on Monday.
It said the number of countries taking action against smoking is growing.
There are now 5.6 billion people living in countries that have implemented at least one of the WHO’s recommended measures to protect non-smokers, according to the group’s latest report on the tobacco epidemic.
However, the agency has criticised some countries for not taking further action to limit tobacco use and enforce existing rules.
According to the WHO, more than eight million people die each year from tobacco use, most of them in low or middle-income countries.
Tobacco smoke also has major impacts on non-smokers, it said.
The group attributes 1.2 million deaths each year, including the death of 65,000 children to second-hand smoke exposure.
Effective smoking prevention measures would ensure that fewer people get cancer, cardiovascular diseases or respiratory problems, all of which are caused by smoking, said Rüdiger Krech, the WHO’s director for health promotion.
Krech said Germany is among the countries causing “great concern” for the WHO.
Germany’s indoor smoking ban is inconsistent, a ban on tobacco advertising is poorly enforced and the latest price hikes for tobacco products lagged behind inflation and so ended up making the product cheaper, Krech said.
“We can’t really understand why politicians in Germany are so lax in implementing tobacco control measures,” said Krech, who is from western Germany.
“This causes a lot of suffering and leads to unnecessarily high pressure on the health system in Germany,” he added. (dpa/NAN)